Video on demand from 30 Oct 2020
available until 30 Oct 2021

Many happy returns!

The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra is celebrating its 75th anniversary – with golden archive material and world stars Julia Fischer und Daniel Müller-Schott.

The orchestra has played in Europe's major concert venues, has toured Asia and even played before the UNO in New York. Founded in 1945 on the initiative of the British military government, the radio orchestra was moulded by chief conductors like Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Günter Wand, Christoph Eschenbach and Christoph von Dohnányi into a first-class ensemble. Now the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra celebrates its 75th birthday – with the programme of its inaugural concert.

The Anniversary Concert

»We won't play this trying programme again until we have an anniversary to celebrate« – this was Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt's prophecy. On 30 October 1945, the first chief conductor of the North-West German Radio Symphony Orchestra led the orchestra in its inaugural concert in the Laeiszhalle, which had been spared from wartime destruction.

75 years on, his prediction comes true: nearly the same programme can be heard once more at the same location. In the meantime, the ensemble bears the name NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, and conductor Alan Gilbert stands on the rostrum tonight.


NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester
Julia Fischer violin
Daniel Müller-Schott violoncello
conductor Alan Gilbert


Johannes Brahms
Konzert für Violine, Violoncello und Orchester a-Moll op. 102

Piotr I. Tschaikowsky
Sinfonie Nr. 5 e-Moll op. 64

Julia Fischer Julia Fischer © Uwe Arens
Daniel Müller-Schott Daniel Müller-Schott © Uwe Arens
Alan Gilbert Alan Gilbert © Peter Hundert / NDR
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester © Michael Zapf

The history of the orchestra :in short videos (English subtitles available)

Orchester des Nordwestdeutschen Rundfunks 1947

1945 : An orchestra is born

Following the example of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the British occupying power set up the first radio symphony orchestra in Hamburg in 1945 – the ensemble that was later to become the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. The first chief conductor was Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, and no lesser figure than Yehudi Menuhin was hired as the orchestra's first soloist.

Archive recording: Beethoven's Seventh Symphony under Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt with the orchestra

The first chief conductor : Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt

In 1945 Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt became the first conductor of what is now the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. »This marked the beginning of one of the best times of my life«, recalls Schmidt-Isserstedt, whom the musicians affectionately called »the boss«. He was in charge of the orchestra for 25 years, and under his baton it achieved international renown.

Tour in Russia, 1961

An orchestra becomes a musical ambassador : On tour

Under Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt the North-West German Radio Symphony Orchestra contributed to the international dialogue on its tours. After a tour of Germany, in 1950 it became the first German orchestra to play in Paris since the war. This was followed by tours of England and visits to Russia and the USA.

The Concert at the Elbphilharmonie

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